Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett: Friends off the court, often rivals on it

By Russell FullerBBC tennis correspondent
Gordon Reid & Alfie Hewett won the Wimbledon title last summer
Gordon Reid & Alfie Hewett won the Wimbledon title last summer
2018 Australian Open
Dates: 15-28 January Venue: Melbourne Park
Coverage: Watch highlights on BBC Two, the BBC Sport website and app. Live commentary on the best matches on BBC Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra and online.

The British pair of Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett are a potent doubles combination, but increasingly a barrier to each other's ambitions on the singles court.

Reid, 26, won his first Grand Slam wheelchair singles titles in 2016; triumphing in both Australia and at Wimbledon.

Last year, though, Hewett really came of age. He only lost his teenage status in December, but by then had won his first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros in June.

The two train together, and celebrated together after winning last year's Wimbledon and US Open doubles titles.

Reid was initially in the ascendancy on the singles court, but the second half of last year belonged to Hewett.

The 20-year-old won a gripping three-hour semi-final at the US Open in a deciding-set tie-break after saving six match points.

He then ended the season in style by winning the NEC Wheelchair Masters for the first time.

"He's a friend. We've always been friends," Hewett says of his relationship with Reid.

"Of course it's going to be a little bit difficult knowing that we could play each other, but it's something we've done for years now.

"Look at New York: we played a three-hour match - an absolute slog - and then an hour-and-a-half later we played the doubles final together and we were laughing and working hard as a team.

"There's never any bad atmosphere between us. He's just an opponent, the same as the seven other guys who play in Grand Slams. I've just got to take whoever is at the other end as a shadow, and not think about it."

The pair reunited as a doubles team in Johannesburg last April, having only played one tournament together since the Paralympics seven months earlier.

On the face of it, Rio was very successful for them both. They won silver for Great Britain in the doubles, and Hewett - aged 18 - was the runner-up to Reid in the singles.

But there were repercussions.

"It's been difficult - especially after the final in Rio," Reid explained.

"I think it was a tough period of time for Alfie because such a young guy achieving so much at the Paralympics, he maybe felt like he didn't quite get the recognition he deserved because I won the gold medal.

"So I think that was a tough period for him and maybe affected our relationship a little bit."

"None of us expected it to be an all-Brit final," Hewett continued.

"It would have been great obviously to get the gold, but he played sublime that day and deserved it - and I've never held anything against him for that.

"But I don't think we really sat down and talked about it, and there was maybe this elephant in the room and it probably prevented our partnership from being as strong as it could have been.

"But we sat down one day and we openly talked about it. I felt maybe my achievement was overshadowed, but too right it should have been - he won the gold."

This week, they will hope to be on the same side of the court in the Australian Open's wheelchair doubles final. But they will not be able to share the stage in the singles final, as they have landed in the same half of the draw.

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